Today's Story Line:

By , World editor of The Christian Science Monitor

With so many former Soviet-bloc nations stuck with gloomy economies - especially Russia - it's a surprise to find Poland has become a paragon of capitalism (page 1). In fact, our reporter ran into Poland's first privatization minister at the Christian Dior store on Warsaw's famous (and crowded) shopping street. During the cold war, the Soviets often complained that Communist-run Poland never got rid of its private farms. Capitalist thinking, they warned, would rise again. Now Poland is due to enter the European Union after 2005.

It may be timeout for the Mideast peace process while Israel holds an election (this page). Over the past couple decades, elections have tended to made Israel lurch left and right, either pushing peace forward or backward. What will this one bring? At the least, a realignment of parties. Quote of note: "We are at the threshold of tremendous change in Israeli politics." - Labor Party adviser Michael Bar-Zohar.

Scenes of tear-gassed protests in South Korea were once a nightly staple on American television news. With the return of democracy, protests are now more varied and riot police are trying to adjust (next page). How does one end a standoff between violent Buddhist monks?

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

- Clayton Jones

World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

* A HARD DAY'S NIGHT IN KOREA: While researching the Korean protest story, Seoul contributor Michael Baker heard an unusual tale of riot control from a high school math teacher. One of Korea's biggest pop singers was attending the teacher's class when hundreds of middle-school girls crowded out front to catch a glimpse of their idol. Some riot police were training in a nearby park and noticed the commotion. Without much else to do, a phalanx of these storm troopers sprang into action. Waving shields and batons, they chased the screaming girls away.

* WHERE YOU'RE COMING FROM: Plying the fashionable Warsaw streets for today's story, Berlin-based contributor Lucian Kim was reminded of a joke making the rounds: A Russian en route to France and a Frenchman bound for Russia each make an unexpected stopover in Warsaw. Getting off the plane, each takes a look around. Says the Russian: "Is this Paris?" Says the Frenchman: "Is this Moscow?"

PRONUNCIATiON GUIDE

* LEADING ISRAELI POLITICIANS:

Ehud Barak - EH'-hud bah-RAHK'

Benny Begin - BAY'-gun

Dan Meridor - meh-REE'-dor

Yitzhak Mordechai - Yeetz-KHAHK' mor-deh-KHAI

Amnon Lipkin-Shahak - AM'-non LIP'-kin SHA'-hahk

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